Statement from Congressman Heck on skyrocketing health care premiums for Washingtonians in 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the announcement of the proposed increases in individual market premium rates for 2019, Congressman Denny Heck (WA-10) released the following statement:
“Make no mistake, these premium increases were avoidable. For months, health care experts and Congressional watchdogs warned that the policies being pushed by the Trump Administration and its allies—such as repealing the individual mandate, refusing to pay cost sharing subsidies, and allowing for short-term junk plans—would result in sky-high premium increases and less Americans with insurance coverage. Unfortunately, these warnings were ignored as the Administration and Republicans in Congress pushed forward with their agenda to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
“I’ve been pleased that Washington state has been working to mitigate the damage of the Trump Administration’s misguided policies. Our state invested in enrollment outreach, advanced policies to encourage insurers to enter underserved markets, and is working on rules to restrict short-term junk plans. It is due in no small part to these efforts that every county in Washington state will have at least one insurer in 2019. However, these efforts can only go so far when working with an Administration intent on undoing the parts of the Affordable Care Act essential to keeping costs down.
“We need to put the partisan rhetoric aside and work to advance common sense, evidence-based solutions that will bring down the cost of health care and give families access to affordable, comprehensive insurance coverage. I stand ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to accomplish this.”
On June 4, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner announced that eleven health insurers filed 48 health plans for Washington state’s 2019 individual market, with an average proposed rate increase of 19%. These rate proposals will be reviewed and finalized later this year.
Heck is a cosponsor of H.R. 3748, the Medicare Buy-In Health Care Stabilization Act, which would allow Americans ages 50-64 to buy into Medicare, enact new steps to stabilize the individual market, and require the Department of Health and Human Services negotiate volume discounts on prescription drugs for all Medicare beneficiaries. Heck is also a cosponsor of H.R.3258, the Marketplace Certainty Act, which would fund Cost Sharing Reductions (CSR) subsidies and allow more individuals and families to qualify for subsidies that reduce their out-of-pocket costs.
Last year, Congressman Heck spoke out against the Republican plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. On March 22, 2017, Congressman Heck urged his colleagues to vote against the American Health Care Act. Congressman Heck shared the stories of Washingtonians who had benefitted from the Affordable Care Act on the House floor, telling Marty’s story on January 13, 2017, telling Shirley and Sarah’s story on February 3, 2017, telling Baby Gracie’s story on February 14, 2017, and reading Sherry’s letter on March 8, 2017. Congressman Heck also invited Kelty Pierce to share her story with Congress as a guest for the President’s 2017 Joint Address to Congress.